Prime Minister Mark Rutte has faced media again to give an update on the government’s approach to coronavirus.
No major decisions have been announced regarding the lifting of the measures, but Rutte did speak of three major points.
Congratulations to the Dutch
Firstly, he was particularly proud last weekend that despite the sunshine, people still followed instructions. The majority stayed at home, and if they went out they kept 1.5 metres distance from each other.
He noted there were some minor exceptions but said those people got fined. “That’s also the only way”
Secondly, he made a point to say that the measures have been successful, with numbers increasing far less dramatically. But, he cautioned that can also create a risk, and warned people not to relax. “It has to be clear that we can’t make a bigger mistake, we have to keep it up. Otherwise, everything we have built up so far will be gone.”
While the upcoming Easter weekend is normally busy for Dutch families, Rutte said this year needs to be different. “I ask everyone to celebrate Easter at home, maybe with a digital visit to Opa and Oma,” he said. He reiterated that it is not allowed to go out with bigger groups, including on bikes or motorbikes.
What will life look like on the other side?
Finally, Rutte acknowledged that life is looking very different, and likely will for a while. “There’s a lot of questions about how we can go back to the life that we were used to. But we have to be careful that we don’t make a choice between health or economy,” he said.
“If we let go now, the virus will start spreading more and the economy will take even more damage.” The government is now trying to think of intelligent ways to reform society.
“One thing is crystal clear: it will take a long time to go back to normal.” he said, adding that if they do start to remove restrictions on April 28 as planned, it will only happen very slowly.
Rutte encouraged companies to think about how they will implement social distancing measures if restrictions are slowly lifted, for example by ensuring people continue to stay 1.5 metres away.
In the week leading up to April 28 they will start to think about how it happens. But, things will only go back to normal if people follow the measures and the rules, Rutte warned.
Rutte finished his speech by asking the public to spare a thought for those who have lost their family and friends, and for the people who are lonely.
“Keep helping each other and support each other if possible. Ask for help if you are a little lost yourself.”
What do you think of Rutte’s speech? Do you think the restrictions are ready to start being lifted? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Feature Image: NOS